Smile! (Andrew)

“Can I take your photo?” Is not a question I get asked often. In fact, until last week, I’d only been asked it once.

I was on holiday in India and walking round Jaipur palace when two Indian boys approached me and asked “Can we have a photo?”.

I thought they wanted me to take a photo of them. In fact, they wanted to take a photo of me. I said “okay” and they happily took a number of snaps of a puzzled looking Scotsman. I still don’t know why they asked.

Last week I was asked again if I wanted my photo taken.

I was buying a car, I’d arranged to collect it from the dealer, when, after I’d been given the keys, they asked: “Do you want your photo taken?”

I didn’t know what to say. Why would I want my photo taken? I’m collecting a car, not receiving a Nobel prize.

Then I thought, how do I even get my picture taken with a car? Do I need to pose? Do I stare at the camera? Do I face the car and look back seductively? Do I splay myself on the bonnet? How do you pose with a car?

I said “No.” I thought it was the safe choice. Less awkward from me. Definitely less awkward for them.

“Please God, no, don’t ‘make love to the camera’! Just hold the keys up and smile!”

I asked: “Does anyone say ‘yes’?”

And they said. “No.”


(Though I admire their persistence.)

On the way home, driving along the M8 I started thinking if there were any other times people take your photo. Then I remember – you get your photo taken when you finish a race.

At the end of races, sometimes in the middle of them, you get your photo taken. Of course, it’s not the best photo in the world, even though it represents a great achievement. Your face is red. Your stomach is like a squashed pillow as the photographer somehow manages to take thier photo halfway between your elated arms in the air joy and you’re ‘bloody ‘ell I just want to collapse’ slump.

Which is better than the photos you get mid-race when the photographer ambushes you just as you have a facial expression which looks like an action man/barbie (depending on your sex) that has been left too close to the fire while you’ve been simultaneously hosed down in chip fat oil. Also, you probably did ‘the point’

You know ‘the point’. That’s where you think pointing at the sky, a rock, the photographer or just a passing seagull will somehow translate into a really cool kick ass photo. It doesn’t. Just look at any finish of any bike race ever. If a professional cyclist can’t look cool pointing at the sky while winning Paris Roubaix after six hours on a bike across the battered fields of Belgium then you look as cool as Jacob Rees Mogg in a mankini.

But still we want these photos.

Yet, when asked if I want a photo with my car, when I’ve brushed my hair, scrubbed my face, wearing normal clothes and not sausage skin Lycra, I say “no”.


I can think of only one reason.

A picture is worth a thousand words. And when you get a photo of you running then that photo says “Winner!” one thousand times. But when you get a photo of your new car the only thing that photo says is “You Plonker!”.